European Animals The Major Part They Took In Forever Altering the Ecology of the Americas Although the Europeans presence in the Americas from 1492 to many years later caused drastic change in the environment, their part in forever altering the entire American ecosystem was minor when compared to the part of the true criminals: the European animals. The introduction of these European animals into the New World had the most destructive effects on the new environment and everlastingly altered the ecology of the Americas. During the time that pre-dated the arrival of the Europeans, the Americas remained basically untouched and prevailed as virgin land. The land was populated with not just American Indians, but also populated by vast numbers of plants and animals. These inhabitants "lived, died, and bred alone for generation after generation, developing unique cultures and working out tolerances," that is up until 1492, when Columbus and the European conquerors invaded the harmonious land and instantaneously initiated the many long years of corruption.
Roberts, N. (1989). The Holocene: an environmental history. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Cowley, G. (1991). "The great disease migration."
Even Anderson affirms that “although livestock can hardly be blamed for everything that happened in early America, they certainly helped to shape the course of events.” (p. 242) It is much more likely that the increase in population among the colonists and the increase in the number animals drove the expansion of the settlements into Indian territory and pushed the Native Americans from their lands. The livestock was left to roam freely, but it was not the freedom of the animals that drove Indians from their homes and land. It was the conflict between the English settlers and the Native Americans that were decisive in the changes of the settlement process. Nevertheless, the work delivers a respected view at a different aspect of colonization and the relationship between the people, the land, and the animals. However, throughout the three sections of Creatures of Empire Virginia DeJohn Anderson manages to prove that livestock played a vital role in the establishment of the Chesapeake and New England colonies and the relationships between the natives and the
The importance of the ecological part in Cronon book was best illustrated in this quote “the replacement of Indians by predominantly European populations in New England was as much an ecological as a cultural revolution, and the human side of that revolution cannot fully understood until it is embedded in ecological one” (Cronon 6). Human lifestyles and views do change the environment. The Europeans saw the land as a way to get rich. Prosperity for colonists requires the use of the maximum possible, especially with the abandoned resources, they saw in the new land. What possibly made the land so rich was before the arrival of the colonists, natives used only what they needed to survive, however as soon as the European arrived, they begin to ship resources to Europe, which the colonists viewed as their homeland, basically the new land was just a sources of resources and richness.
They reproduced in the wild and started becoming a nuisance to both Europeans and the natives as they destroyed agricultural plants and oyster beds. livestocks put more pressure on local pastures allowing way for the growth of tougher eurpean weeds and grasses. This led to a less conducive environment for plants and finally reduced the soils ability to retain water. Before a century went by, the ecosystem of New England had permanently changed and and would never return to normal. The ecological changes mentioned throughout this book although cultural were either economical or environmental: dandelion, the fence, the arrival of pigs etc was just an eye opener to to bring to light the complex process and changes brought about due to the arrival of the Europeans to America.
Imported, overgrazing European animals helped in the quick dispersal of these plants. The effect of these new grasses is hard to determine. Many of the indigenous grasses all but disappeared, except for small-untouched areas. The introduced animals helped to pave the way for many of these new plants (2 Crosby, 157). The animals first overgrazed the native plants, which were not adapted for heavy grazing, and then continued overgrazing created a new niche or specialization.
Crosby, Jr., Alfred. The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. West Port, Connecticut, 1972. Gause, as quoted in Krebs, Charles J. Ecology 4th ed. California: Addison Wesley Longman, Inc., 1994.
While the Europeans set up colonies, they destroyed the land and the lives of the Native American people. While many aspects of the Age of Exploration had positive effects, such as the exchange of new foods and animals, there were also negative effects, such as the exchange of diseases between Europe and the Americas. Even though the discovery of the Americas was accidental, it left a major impact on the world. Long distance trade and travel increased dramatically and the world became linked. One of the major positive impacts of the Age of Exploration was the exposure to new foods, plants, animals, ideas, and customs.
Cronon states that the Indians adapted to the changes brought upon by the colonists and adopted the lifestyle of owning and settling in a specific portion of land. This major change in the Indians’ lifestyle also had consequences with the environment. Permanently settling into the densely populated forts aided the “spread of infectious diseases” (Cronon page 1740). Similarly the dense population also affected nearby “hunting and planting areas” (Cronon page 1741), which the Indians used as their source of food and resources once they were pushed into the heavily populated areas. The overpopulation of the Indians in specific areas also had a huge contribution to the depletion of that area 's resources.
Colonization During the early years of colonization and exploration in North America and Africa, many New World "collided" and brought to each other many new things, both good and bad. There were exchanges of ideas, products and crops that greatly advanced the cultures of all involved, but on the other hand, new diseases, and harsh treatment of one another were also present. Before the arrival of the Europeans to present day United States, the Native Americans treated their homeland with respect and with spiritual properties. Occasionally they burned sections of land in the wilderness for better hunting area, but other than that they provided no threat to its well being. This all changed when the European settlers arrived.